Insulin

Insulin

Drug Information

Insulin is a natural protein made by the pancreas that helps the body use sugar. Insulin is injected by all people with type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and by some people with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus to help control blood sugar levels.

Any substance (dietary, supplemental, herbal, and others) that affects blood sugar levels will directly or indirectly affect the amount of insulin required by a person with diabetes. For example, consumption of a high-fiber diet and/or supplementation with nutrients such as chromium, biotin, vitamin E, or herbs such as Gymnema sylvestre will often improve blood sugar control in diabetics. In such cases, the amount of insulin may need to be reduced in order to avoid a hypoglycemic reaction. Anyone taking insulin should consult the prescribing physician before making dietary changes or taking nutrients or herbs that are designed to lower blood sugar levels.

Common brand names:

Exubera, Humalog, Humanlog, Humulin, Iletin, Levemir, Novolin, NovoRapid, Oralin, Lantus, Apidra, Levemir, NovoLog

Summary of Interactions with Vitamins, Herbs, & Foods

Types of interactions:BeneficialAdverseCheck

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • DHEA

    Insulin has been shown to decrease the levels of DHEA and DHEA-sulfate in the blood. More research is needed to determine the significance of this finding.

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • Fenugreek

    In a controlled study of patients with type 1 diabetes, fenugreek (100 grams per day for ten days) was reported to reduce blood sugar, urinary sugar excretion, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides, with no change in insulin levels. In a controlled study of people with type 2 diabetes, fenugreek (25 grams per day for 24 weeks) was reported to significantly reduce blood glucose levels. People using insulin should talk with their prescribing doctor before incorporating large amounts of fenugreek into their diet.

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required 

  • Biotin
    Biotin supplements have been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Consequently, supplementing with biotin could reduce blood sugar levels in people with taking insulin, potentially resulting in abnormally low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). While biotin supplementation may be beneficial for people with diabetes, its use in combination with insulin or with any other blood sugar–lowering medication should be supervised by a doctor.
  • Chromium

    Chromium supplements have been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Consequently, supplementing with chromium could reduce blood sugar levels in people with taking insulin, potentially resulting in abnormally low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). While chromium supplementation may be beneficial for people with diabetes, its use in combination with insulin or with any other blood sugar-lowering medication should be supervised by a doctor.

  • Dandelion

    Animal studies have shown that dandelion can lower blood sugar levels. In a case report, a patient who was taking insulin for diabetes developed episodes of hypoglycemia after adding dandelion to her treatment regimen. People taking blood sugar-lowering drugs should therefore not take dandelion without the supervision of a doctor.

  • Gymnema

    Although no interactions have been reported, gymnema may decrease the required daily dose of insulin. Therefore, people currently using insulin for the treatment of diabetes should discuss the use of this herb with their healthcare professional.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers' package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

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